20 jul Mashable — The Afghan girls robotics team just won a silver medal
The all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan that was initially denied entry to the United States for an international competition is taking home the silver medal.
Fittingly, they received a the accolade for “courageous achievement” at the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition where teams were asked to come up with an idea for providing access clean water.
Initially, the team had been denied entry to the United States at least twice, but were finally granted visas thanks to an intervention from an unlikely source: President Donald Trump.
In June, First Global President Joe Sestak told Mashable he thought the team received a “fair shot” at getting visas, but did not get a reason from the State Department as to why they were denied.
Getting visas wasn’t the only issue the girls faced. Additionally, they had difficulty getting the supplies to build their robot. While other teams received their materials in March, the team from Afghanistan received their supplies in early June, as officials were concerned the supplies could make their way into the hands of extremists.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump was present at the competition, too (because of course she was). Last week, she tweeted that she looked forward to welcoming the team.
“I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene, to bring nations together where people find that [what] they have in common is greater than their differences,” he said in a press release.
“This is why I am most grateful to the US Government and the State Department for ensuring that Afghanistan — as well as Gambia, Yemen, Libya, and Vanuatu this past week — would be able to join us for this international competition.”
Had the team been completely denied entry to the U.S., they planned on watching the competition via Skype. But last week, Trump reportedly intervened, urging officials to allow the girls into the U.S., and it worked.
On their team page for the competition, the girls wrote, “We want to make a difference and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great.
We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in people’s lives.”
It’s safe to say they’re one step closer to achieving that dream.